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Parents and Anime

     I frequently hear comments from other parents about anime, including comments about how violent Dragon Ball Z is, or complaints about all the Pokémon merchandise.  As someone who has shelled out more than a few dollars on pokécards and other assorted Pokémerchandise and as someone who has actually watched anime as a parent , I feel qualified to vent on this subject.

     As my little ones grew older, I became more and more frustrated  looking for media that would challenge my kids. Watching them zone out watching mind numbing pap such as sponge Bob and Mega Babies was driving me crazy.  Then my son, who was 5 at the time, discovered Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z, stories that kept both munchkins enthralled, stories that forced them to think and pay attention and remember a plot.  I remember sitting down with both of them after Piccolo sacrificed himself for Gohan and having a talk about the ability of people to change and grow.

       Looking back, our best discussions have happened after watching anime.  Why people are willing to give their life for a cause. Why Kenshin protects people. They learned how to deal with difficult situations such as alcoholism and drug use. They've also learned about different cultures and religions. Knowledge that will hopefully let them grow up to be tolerant of others.  

 I believe that the cartoons of my youth were much more violent than the majority of the popular anime. Bugs Bunny and the Road Runner routinely used massive amounts of mindless violence. Current prime time television shows are much graphically violent, (don't get me started on the Simpsons), without the redeeming values of a theme or of an interesting plot.  I've always thought it a bit hypocritical when parents will rent a video that is clearly rated R and let their elementary school age kids watch it and then say that they don't want them to watch a violent cartoon.  Listen folks, it's pen and paper, kids can tell the difference, the line starts blurring when you have live action films mixed up with Cops and don't talk about it.  

     There are many avenues available for parents to become more aware of what their kids are watching.  The first being, watch with them; the kids get someone who can help pay for their anime addiction and the parents get an excuse to watch it.  Check out web sites like the anime café, which has a parents' review section that will help parents decide which anime is within their comfort level and reduce surprises in an otherwise innocuous anime (that licking scene in El Hazard threw me for a loop, I didn't want those questions yet arrrgh)

     The juvenile anime, such as Kiki's Delivery Service and Panda Go Panda, are fantastic starting points. They also have the added bonus of not being as annoying as Barney. Slayers and Ranma1/2 are good ones to move up to; it must be mentioned that the only true frontal nudity in Ranma1/2 is Ranma himself.  (The only one that was shocked by Ranma was my 17 yr. old nephew.  The look on his face when my son told him that Happosai only wanted some milk was precious, snicker.)

     I am the mom who's  daughter is running around outside dragon slaving her brother, who in turn responds with Gekigengar3 eye lasers.  I will also remain the mom whose house is the congregating area for my nephew and his friends, (even though I won't let them smoke or drink here) They come to watch my anime and they stay to talk about it.  I've heard about the friends in hospital because of suicide attempts and worries about life, Anime has providing the starting point,